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Fall is a gorgeous time of year, but it’s also a grueling period for yard work. As that stunning foliage falls from the trees, homeowners are faced with the Sisyphean task of clearing their yard of endlessly dropping debris. This step of lawn maintenance, important in preventing disease from hijacking your grass under the cover of wet leaves during the winter months, will be much easier if you have appropriate outdoor power equipment like a cordless leaf blower for the job. We’re here to help you identify the best leaf mulchers to clear your lawn and dispose of autumn debris.
- Best electric: WORX 12 Amp 3-in-1 Electric Blower/Mulcher/Vacuum
- Best gas: Landworks Mini Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher
- Best stand-alone SuperHandy Leaf Mulcher
- Best heavy duty: Patriot Products 14 Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
- Best budget: Black + Decker 3 in 1 Electric Leaf Blower
- Best budget 3-in-1: WORX WG518 Leaf Blower, Mulcher, & Vacuum
What can the best leaf mulcher do?
Once you find the best leaf mulcher for your lawn care, disposing of leaves is a breeze. Depending on your location, leaf disposal can be tricky. Some towns have a service for leaf pickup, but it often comes with a fee attached and the responsibility of tracking down a specific type of leaf bag. Other towns have a set location for residents to drop off their bagged leaves, which can be difficult if you don’t have a pickup truck to transport the hefty bags.
A better option? Make leaf mulching a part of your yard maintenance. The process simply involves loading the leaves into a leaf shredder that cuts them up into tiny pieces, greatly reducing the heft of the load. Once shredded, leaves can be mulched around your plants and trees to retain moisture, protect from frost, and suppress weeds.
Like any piece of outdoor power equipment, an overwhelming number of options with different features are available for purchase. A little bit of research can ensure that your machine is tailored to your specific lawn care needs. Here we’ll lay out things to consider before purchasing a leaf mulcher and name six of the best leaf mulchers on the market.
Best leaf mulchers: Our picks
Best electric: WORX 12 Amp 3-in-1 Electric Blower/Mulcher/Vacuum
This corded electric three-in-one model is lightweight but powerful. A simple switch quickly flips from blower to vacuum to mulching mode, and two speeds are available to accommodate different functions. It boasts an 18:1 mulching ratio, consolidating 18 bags of leaves into just one. As an electric device, this model is muted and environmentally friendly.
This Landworks machine has a mulching ratio of 15:1, and is able to tackle branches of up to 3 inches in diameter. You can adjust the discharge chute anywhere between 90 to 145 degrees for easy and efficient disposal. The 7HP engine takes 87 octane gas with no ethanol.
Best stand-alone: SuperHandy Leaf Mulcher
The SuperHandy Leaf Mulcher is a smaller version of the SuperHandy Wood Chipper. While the mulcher can’t handle the sizable branches that the Wood Chipper can, it comes at a fraction of the price and is perfect for yearly leaf maintenance. It has a high 17:1 mulching ratio, and its electric belt-driven motor is quiet and eco-friendly.
Best heavy duty: Patriot Products 14 Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
This Patriot Products wood chipper/leaf shredder offers versatile performance for various levels of yard maintenance. A larger piece of outdoor power equipment, this electric mulcher remains smooth and quiet as it shreds leaves and chips branches up to 2 ½ inches in diameter. Simply slide your debris into the top of the feeder and the mulch spits out the side.
Best budget: Black + Decker 3 in 1 Electric Leaf Blower
This blower has options for more attachments, but even the bare bones model is a blower, vacuum, and mulcher all in one. The corded, electric blower is lightweight and easy to use, and it shreds ten bags of leaves into one. This option is great for homeowners looking for a basic, wallet-friendly mulcher.
Things to consider when choosing a mulching machine
With so many variations of leaf mulchers available, first narrow your options down by deciding what style mulching machine you’re looking for: handheld or stand-alone? Stand-alone mulchers are stationary machines into which you feed collected leaves for shredding. You can carry a handheld machine around the yard and vacuum leaves straight into the machine. Handheld mulchers usually function as a leaf blower as well.
Also think about what power source is best for you. A gas-powered mulcher is an excellent choice if you want more power and want to avoid plugging in the device or charging batteries, but that comes at the cost of a heavier machine. An electric or battery-powered mulcher leaves you at the mercy of your power source—but can be significantly lighter and easier to maneuver.
Lastly, pay attention to the mulching ratio of your leaf shredder. The mulch ratio basically tells you how much the shredder will cut down your leaves: the highest ratio of 18:1 will reduce 18 bags of leaves to fit into 1 bag. When choosing the best leaf mulchers for your needs, consider how many bags of leaves you typically have in the fall and what you plan to do with them after they’re shredded—larger shreds are fine for mulching around your trees, while smaller shreds are better for composting.
Electric leaf mulchers are easy to handle
A handheld mulching machine gives you the benefit of turning the two steps of gathering the leaves and then mulching them into one step. Most models can blow, vacuum, and shred, so one swift trip around the yard completes the entire clean up.
Electric leaf mulchers are significantly lighter than their gas-powered counterparts. Collecting leaves is done with relative ease, and while you’ll need a battery or connection to a power source, you can use a long extension cord or keep an extra battery charging.
Gas powered leaf mulchers provide extended use
For extended use without a power cord or having to stop and recharge batteries, gas powered mulchers keep going for a lot longer than an electric model. Gas powered models tend to be more expensive than electric, but you get what you pay for with more power and faster clean up—just remember to keep extra gas in the shed so you can start with a full tank.
Stand-alone leaf mulchers can manage heavier loads
The majority of the best leaf mulchers are handheld and come with blower and vacuum functions, but a stand-alone leaf mulcher has only one function—to shred leaves. This is perfect for handling heavier loads, and if you go for a higher-end model, you’re ultimately purchasing a wood chipper that can even deal with small tree limbs. We found a smaller model as well as a heavy-duty model for more extreme yard work.
A heavy-duty leaf mulcher can act as a wood chipper as well
If you’re willing to fork over some more green for a more versatile machine, a heavier-duty leaf shredder can reduce twigs, branches, and acorns. This is optimal for cleaning up debris after storms and heavy winds knock limbs into your yard. These powerful devices can make yard maintenance quick and efficient and leave you with aesthetically pleasing mulch for your landscaping.
The best leaf mulcher on a budget
If your fall yard maintenance tends to be a small and simple job, the best leaf mulcher for you shouldn’t have to break the bank. While cheap mulchers often coincide with smaller capacity for collection and a less powerful engine, we’ve found inexpensive models on the market that are still strong and efficient.
Q: What leaves are not good for compost?
The leaves that won’t compost well are higher in lignin, a polymer that makes them feel rigid, almost wooden. High-lignin leaves include those found on beech trees, oaks, and sweet cherry trees. Also avoid black walnut, eucalyptus, and poison ivy leaves, as they can be toxic. The best leaves for mulching have high levels of calcium and nitrogen and are low in lignin, like poplar, maple, and ash leaves.
Q: What is the best way to shred leaves?
If you don’t have many trees around the yard and your fall blanket is minimal, a lawn mower could work as a leaf shredder in a pinch—simply mow over the leaves and collect them in the mower’s bag attachment. However, with several price-friendly options on the market, it’s better to take the easier route and buy a leaf mulcher. A specialized leaf vacuum and mulcher does a more thorough job picking up the leaves and shreds smaller than a mower can.
Q: What is the best 3-in-1 blower, vacuum, and mulcher?
DeWalt and Husqvarna are both popular outdoor equipment brands and each have excellent 3 in 1 leaf machines, but our favorite is the WORX WG518, a 12-amp 2-speed leaf blower, vacuum, and mulcher. This is a corded model, so you’ll need a power source, but in return it’s lightweight and easy to carry. Its mulch ratio is on the higher end at 16:1, so if you have a large amount of leaves to consolidate, this machine does the trick.
Some final thoughts before you choose the best leaf mulchers
Finding the best leaf mulcher to clean up your lawn this fall will take a lot of heavy lifting, and raking, off your shoulders. The 3-in-1 models are especially efficient with the capability to operate as a leaf blower, vacuum, and mulcher all in one. Removing the bed of leaves from your yard is an essential part of your yard maintenance schedule, as it keeps the leaves from molding and suffocating your lawn or becoming a breeding ground for debris. Find yourself the best leaf mulcher for your needs and in no time you’ll have your yard cleaned up and ready for next spring.